'I fell on my head, I'll be fine': Rick Fraser talks about Sunday's spill on the chuckwagon track

Chuckwagon driver Rick Fraser flies from his seat as his wagon flips over at the start of Heat 4 of the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede on Sunday July 10, 2016. It was announced after the incident that neither Rick Fraser nor any of the horses were hurt. MIKE DREW / CALGARY HERALD

 

In hindsight, it was somewhat comical.

At the time, it was anything but.

Veteran driver Rick Fraser was dumped out of his chuckwagon at the bottom of the No. 1 barrel Sunday night.

After watching the other wagons and outriders stampede safely past him, Fraser got to his feet and gave chase … on foot.

“I was chasing the horses,” Fraser said. “But when you hit 56, you don’t go very far before you’re out of air.

“I thought they might stop in the first turn but (outrider) David Bensmiller reached down, picked them up and saved them.

“He’s a hell of a hand.”

Outriders try to catch up to their assigned wagons as the pass the chuckwagon of Rick Fraser that flipped over at the start of Heat 4 of the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede on Sunday July 10, 2016. It was announced after the incident that neither Rick Fraser nor any of the horses were hurt. MIKE DREW / CALGARY HERALD

With his four horses stopped in the third turn along with what was left of his wagon, Fraser continued his trek around the track.

And he literally started picking up the pieces.

“I was walking along and ‘hey, there’s a wheel nut, there’s a washer, another wheel nut,’” Fraser said. “Then I started looking for a golf cart to get down to the horses.

“It was like Hansel and Gretel.”

The Grande Prairie reinsman found two wagon wheels that loosened and fell off the wagon as it skidded down the backstretch.

“When it gets upside down, all the wheel nuts are tightened forward,” Fraser said. “So when the wheels spin backwards, it sheds all the parts.

“I’ll have it fixed (Monday). I must build a pretty good box because I built that one myself.”

The wagon actually help up pretty well through the ordeal. The seat broke off, the stove rack had a hole in it and the t-bars were bent but Fraser expected to have it back on the track later this week.

Chuckwagon driver Rick Fraser flies from his seat as his wagon flips over at the start of Heat 4 of the Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede on Sunday July 10, 2016. It was announced after the incident that neither Rick Fraser nor any of the horses were hurt. MIKE DREW /  CALGARY HERALD

He spent the better part of Monday picking up his son Cody’s wagon from Strathmore. Cody, like his dad, competes on the WPCA circuit.

Which meant pushing back his trip to the Children’s hospital by a day.

“We had to change the hospital visit to Tuesday,” Fraser said. “We didn’t want to rush things. We wanted to spend as much time with the kids as they would like.

“That’s important to us.”

Fraser brushed off the severity of his spill, adding he’s been planted on the track plenty in the past.

“Oh, we’ve tipped over lots in practice,” Fraser said. “In my first wagon race when I was a kid, I tipped over and two guys ran me over.

“I skidded on my head underneath a wagon and he ran me over with both wheels. And his brother ran my head over with the horses.”

That wreck stayed with him a lot longer.

He’s got a permanent wagon wheel track across his back to prove it.

Fellow driver Chad Harden came off the No. 2 barrel and, thankfully, had a blistering turn. He had already hit the track – en route to a day-money run – when Fraser was ejected.

If he’d had a slower turn, Sunday’s scary incident could have turned tragic.

“I saw that he was in a little trouble coming to the bottom,” Harden said. “Then I saw the wagon going over and I thought ‘I hope everyone is OK.’

“(After the race), I saw him in the backstretch. He was fine, the outriders were good and not one horse had a nick on it.

“That’s amazing.”

Fraser insists he didn’t suffer so much as a bruise.

“I fell on my head,” he quipped. “I’ll be fine.”

sfisher@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/@ScottFisherPM